Marengo battles to Trial success

Odds-on favourite Battle Of Marengo gave Aidan O’Brien his seventh Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial win in ten years when beating three rivals readily at Leopardstown yesterday.

Sent off at 2/13, Joseph O’Brien’s mount edged ahead before halfway and, chased by Loch Garman and Little White Cloud up the straight, kept going well to triumph by a length and three-quarters in what is best described as a workmanlike, if not particularly impressive, display.

There was no major shake-up in the Investec Derby betting in the wake of Battle Of Maerego’s Group 2 success, with both Paddy Power (5/1) and Ladbrokes (4/1) leaving him unchanged while Boylesports and Stan James cut him to 4/1 (from 5).

Aidan O’Brien expressed himself satisfied with the Galileo colt, which he described as “lazy in front“, commenting:, “We’ve just kept him ticking over since the last day here and you’d have to be happy with him.

“They would have gone very steady if Joseph didn’t go on. The horse needed a good blow, so everything went to plan. It was always the plan to come here twice before Epsom. He’s a very good mover and wants fast ground.”

O’Brien also confirmed that “the three boys” (John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derek Smith) will decide on plans for Epsom, with Battle Of Marengo, Magician, Ruler Of The World and Nevis all having won their trials this week, and with Indian Chief set to face Telescope in the Dante Stakes in York on Thursday.

Battle Of Marengo was the second leg of a Group-race double for Aidan and Joseph O’Brien, initiated when Just Pretending, winner of her maiden in Navan on Tuesday, got the better of Hint Of A Tint by a neck in the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial.

The winning trainer admitted: “She’s a funny lady and has given trouble at the stalls, but using a hood has made a big difference to her. She has a lot of ability and could go for the Irish 1,000 Guineas. She won’t mind going a mile and a quarter. She’s a big mare and will be even better next year.”

Eight months after her controversial Matron Stakes disqualification, the David Wachman-trained Duntle made a successful seasonal debut in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes.

Confidently handled by Wayne Lordan, she travelled well, quickened nicely into the lead before apparently idling and tiring and getting home by three-quarters of a length from Custom Cut.

“That was a grand way to start back,” said Wachman. “The ground is a lot slower than she would like, but she quickened well before getting tired. What she really needs is fast ground and a fast pace. She’ll head for Ascot now.”

Duntle’s target at Royal Ascot, where she won the Sandringham Handicap last year, will be the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes.

Ralston Road will take his chance in the Irish Derby following his hard-earned and gutsy win over Mourani in the finale, the mile and a half maiden, according to trainer Pat Shanahan.

“He’s a big, genuine horse, a good galloper,” said Shanahan of Tadhg O’Shea’s mount. “He’ll run in the Irish Derby and I might find another race for him before then.”

Ken Condon stated: “She’s paid for herself,” after the Shane Foley-ridden Sacred Aspect, 16/1 outsider of the six runners, captured the opening two-year-old maiden before adding: “Shane said she’d prefer a stronger pace. She has a bit of size and scope and should get better with racing. She’ll end up going seven furlongs, but her next run will be in the listed fillies race at Naas on June 3.”

Both of the handicaps produced shock, all-the-way winners. Muredach Kelly commented: “I didn’t know if he’d stay a mile and he’s definitely better than I thought” after Rory Cleary partnered Reposer (12/1) to victory in the Bulmers Live At Leopardstown Handicap.

The Eoin Griffin-trained Fairview Star is set to go hurdling following his half-length win, under an enterprising ride by Declan McDongh, in the Horse Racing Ireland Pensioners Handicap.

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